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Don Lewis, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
Fox Island Wildlife Management Area

Remains of Seven-Year-Old Male — 7 April 2001

The patrol area this morning was the wrack line around Indian Neck, largely flooded with a nearly 12-foot full moon high tide.  Air temperature lingered in the low forties under partly clear/partly cloudy skies.  Water temperature over the tidal flats of Blackfish Creek remained at 46 degrees Fahrenheit, ten points below the wake-up call for sleeping terrapins hunkered under the mud.  As I passed a colleague’s cottage on Anawan Road, I spotted the remains of a diamondback terrapin, obviously placed there by someone who had discovered it along the marsh and wanted us to find it.

He proved to be a 4.5-inch, mature male about seven years old with slightly flared rear marginals.  He had never been observed before, so was unmarked.  Nor were there any predation scars anywhere on his shell.  From the state of these remains, I presume he died sometime in the fall.  While there is no obvious sign which points to the cause of death, I did note that the last few annual growth rings are very compressed.  Whether this observation indicates some stressful factor in his environment, or merely reflects his natural growth trend as he reached full size at maturity is uncertain.